Can building a new home be environmentally friendly?

| 13th August 2018
Wanting to live a greener lifestyle includes going green at home. but can building a home be an environmentally-friendly option for people invested in building their dream home? EMILY FOLK investigates

It’s not a secret that building a home requires a lot of time and energy, and people wanting to go green have noticed.

The age of the internet has made the spread of information much faster and more reliable. People are learning about everything that starts trending on Twitter or ends up as a news segment. For the most part, that information has to do with current events, and some of that leans toward the environmental side of things.

Because people can learn more about what their carbon footprint is and how it impacts the earth, everyone wants to go green. People switch out plastic bottles for reusable ones and turn off their sprinklers earlier than they used to.

But going green is more than getting an eco-friendly car. Like most things, it starts in the home. If you’re considering getting a new home or building one from scratch, read on so that you can learn about which method is more earth-friendly and if it’s right for you.

Budget-friendly

When someone in your life is building their dream home, it’s all they can talk about. You’ll hear about how they’re having problems deciding between paint swatches and building materials, even down to cabinet handles. It’s not a secret that building a home requires a lot of time and energy, and people wanting to go green have an even bigger challenge.

Organisations that can make a difference have formed, including the UK Green Building Council. They aim to help people improve the sustainability of the environment through the construction process. From planning to maintaining, they have resources for anyone building.

What building is going to cost you will be different depending on how you want your home built. There’s no denying that upfront costs will be more expensive if you’re going to include solar hot water panels or energy-efficient insulation. At the same time, green products will save you money in the long run. If there’s a chance you could move out of your home in the near future, you might be better off buying.

Since more people want to go green in their homes, the odds of finding a green home are better than ever before. Still, the UK is struggling to reduce their overall levels of greenhouse emissions. There are over a million homes in the UK with poor energy insulation, and even though the government is providing incentives for homeowners to go green before selling, it’s been a slow change.

If your home isn’t green enough for you, you don’t need to tear it down or sell it to improve the efficiency of your lifestyle. Green renovations happen all the time and could be more budget-friendly than you might think.

Carbon footprint

Ever wanted to redo your hardwood floors? Get that dream accomplished and stay green while you do it by sticking with reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood takes 11 to 13 times less energy to produce than new wood because there aren’t any trees to transport and process.

You can also triple-glaze your windows to keep warm air trapped in the winter. If you look for a glaze that has a lower U-value, you’ll find that it’s less expensive than other glazes. It will have a slightly lower thermal performance but still save you money and energy.

The short answer is yes, building a new home can be environmentally friendly, but that’s not your only option to go green. Building with the environment in mind means you’ll be paying much more upfront, and you might not want to go that far into debt or have to spend time saving that much before starting your project.

Instead, weigh the pros and cons of renovating vs. selling your home. The effects of doing any of these options can still help minimise your carbon footprint without costing you more than you’re willing to spend.

This Author

Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability writer and the editor of Conservation Folks.

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